Eighty Waterfalls. One County.

If you’re the type of person who enjoys few things more than watching cascades of water plummeting over cliffs, it is about time you took a trip down the Highway of Waterfalls.

Otherwise known as Highwy 138 and the North Umpqua River Scenic Byway, the Highway of Waterfalls stretches east from Roseburg past Diamond and Crater lakes and covers some of the most beautiful terrain in America. Along the way, you’ll find 10 waterfalls, most within a short walk or drive from the highway.

Travel time from the first waterfall to the last is only an hour or so, but you’ll need much more time than that to get back to the falls, enjoy the scenery, eat your picnic and commune with nature. So plan to make a day of it.

On your way upriver, stop in Glide for provisions and to take in another whitewater wonder. At the entrance to town, just off the highway, pull into the Colliding Rivers Viewpoint, where you can witness the North Umpqua and Little River converging almost head-on.

The chaotic churn will serve as the perfect appetizer for the eye-feast that lies ahead.

On your trip, the best-known of the falls you will encounter is Toketee Falls, about 58 miles east of Roseburg. Named for Chinook Jargon that means “pretty” or “graceful”, Toketee drops about 120 feet in two tiers. It flows from the North Umpqua River, so it avoids seasonal fluctuations, making it a popular year-round destination for waterfall enthusiasts.

It is difficult to impossible to get down to the falls, but a viewing platform provides a spectacular vantage point.

While it is the most famous of the area’s waterfalls, Toketee isn’t the first stop on an eastbound tour up Highway 138. You’ll first encounter Deadline Falls, a short but powerful fall where you might be able to see steelhead or salmon jumping en route to or from the Pacific Ocean.

Next up is Susan Creek Falls, a 50-foot fan-type waterfall with an easy access trail, then Fall Creek Falls, a two-tiered fall that drops a total of 85 feet and is a little more difficult to reach.

Just six miles away, Steamboat Falls is about five miles off the highway, but features an easy access trail. From May through October, steelhead are often seen attempting to jump to the top of the 25-foot fall.

Toketee comes next, then it’s just two miles to Watson Falls, the highest waterfall in southwest Oregon and third-highest in Oregon. Pull off Hwy 138 and into the parking lot, and you’ll catch a glimpse of the top of the elegant 272-foot fall. A bridge over Watson Creek offers excellent viewing.

Whitehorse Falls is a 15-foot punch-bowl-type fall, while Clearwater Falls drops 30 feet into a pool and is a short walk from Clearwater Falls campground.

Next, Warm Springs Falls is a block-type fall that drops 70 feet into the pool below. The trail ends above the falls, providing a spectacular viewpoint.

Your final stop is Lemolo Falls, a powerful 165-foot fall. Lemolo is another Chinook Jargon word meaning “wild” or “untamed.” Enough said.

There are all sorts of solid reasons to visit Douglas County during your stay in Oregon. And if you are into waterfalls, we just gave you 10 wet ones.

While we focused on the waterfalls along the North Umpqua River, there are more than 80 waterfalls throughout Douglas County. Check out the following sources to discover other fantastic falls in the area.

http://www.oregon.com/attractions/falls-north-umpqua-river
http://www.waterfallsnorthwest.com/
http://www.blm.gov/or/districts/roseburg/recreation/Thundering_Waters/

Driving the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway

The stunning stretch of road called the Rouge-Umpqua Scenic Byway (also known as the Highway of Waterfalls) isn’t your ordinary journey. This is 172 miles of wild rivers, pristine nature, wondrous waterfalls, rolling hills and incredible landscapes.

What to Bring

You’ll want to pack some food and water and have parking permits ready. You can buy passes online depending on your needs and qualifications here. Thankfully, you’ll also find plenty of towns, restaurants and bathrooms along the way.

Where to Start

There are two ways you can start your journey: either in Roseburg or Gold Hill. The average family takes about eight hours to finish the tour.

From Roseburg, take State Highway 138 east. This road eventually becomes SR 230, then 62, and finally 234 before ending up in Gold Hill. If you’re going from Gold Hill, look for 234, which will end up being State Highway 138 as you roll into town.

Heading from Roseburg, be sure to see the Winchester Dam fish ladder. Here, you can watch salmon, steelhead and other fish make their way up and downstream through a special, underwater window. Plus, be sure to stop at the Douglas County Museum and a few of the area’s wineries along the way.

The Colliding Rivers is just outside Glide. This is a unique spot where two rivers collide head-on. It’s a must-see for everyone in the family.

What you’ll notice during your road trip is that you’re winding alongside the North Umpqua River. Look for anglers casting lines. This is one of the world’s most beloved fly-fishing rivers and it shows. The best of the best come here to test their skills. You can even hire guides to take you fishing if you’re up for some action. The pros in these parts always know where the fish are biting.

The Steamboat Inn is a great place to stop. It’s also a great place to see a celebrity from time to time.

Like waterfalls? There are more than 15 cascades along the way. Some of the most beloved and visited include Toketee Falls and Watson Falls. The others may be smaller but they are just as beautiful. To see them all might add a few hours to your trip.

Just past Toketee Lake you’ll ride alongside Diamond Lake and enjoy views of Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey. A quick stop at Diamond Lake Resort will show you why so many families come back year after year to enjoy fishing, boating, hunting, horseback riding and more.

At the far end of Diamond Lake, you’ll find yourself on the way to Crater Lake National Park. You’ll want to take the time to check out the Crater Rim Viewpoint. The scene is breathtaking.

Finally, you’ll meet back up with the Upper Rogue River, driving through old-growth firs and beds of lava. This is where wagon trains emerged from the treacherous Cascades more than 150 years ago. It’s also where you’ll find Lost Creek Lake, a beautiful retreat for anglers and families alike.

The best part about the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway is that you’ll never get lost. Everything is just off the main road, making this one of the most accessible and beautiful regions in the entire state. Just be sure to keep the gas tank full. It can be a long walk to the nearest gas station.

Download it the map to your smartphone or print it out. Then take the journey for yourself.

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